The Commons Dilemma as Metaphor: Memory, Influence, and Implications for Environmental Conservation

Mio, J. S., Thompson, S. C., & Givens, G. H. (1993). The commons dilemma as metaphor: Memory, influence, and implications for environmental conservation. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 8, 1, 23-42.

Research on the commons dilemma has enjoyed much vigorous interest in the social psychological literature since Hardin's (1968) discussion of the dilemma as it relates to environmental concerns. However, to date, we have found only one study that used the metaphor of the commons dilemma to effect behavioral change. In Experiment 1, we examined the memory aspects of the metaphor of the commons. Indeed, this metaphor seems to be quite memorable, as compared to another environmental passage that was initially judged to be more readable and more informative. In Experiment 2, we examined the effectiveness of the commons metaphor in influencing environmentally conscious behavior. We found that the metaphor did induce less littering in a movie theater context. Results were explained within the framework of the distinction made between structural and individual changes in solving the commons dilemma.

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